Analyzing the Oregon Relays

The Oregon Relays was a lot about doubles and even more. Collegiate and American steeplechase record holder Jenny Barringer of Colorado and Duck Andrew Wheating performed extremely well against tough competition in the 800 and 1500.

Junior Duck Ashton Eaton completed his first decathlon of the year (8023) and indicated bigger things to come and Galen Rupp eased into one of the top times in the country over 10,000 meters and put freshman Duck teammate Luke Puskedra onto the sixth place spot on Oregon's all-time list.

On Friday Andrew Wheating ran a season best over 1500 meters against some of the top collegian and some of last year's Olympic Trials finalists and finished in 3:40.92 (#3 collegiately and #2 in the pac-10) to 3:42.63 by Stephen Pifer of Oregon Track Club Elite. He was behind the leaders and ran down Pifer with a 26.2 final 200 meters. He admitted he was nervous when he came back the next afternoon to run the 800, "I wasn't up on my toes like I normally am, and when the gun went off, I was 15-20 meters behind the leaders." He closed the gap and then unleashed his big finish again and finished in 27.1 over the last 200. He finished in a season-best 1:47.66 (#3 collegian this year, #1 P-10) ahead of Butler's Kris Gauson who ran a season best 1:48.66 (#7 collegian) and in fifth was sophomore Travis Thompson in 1:49.18 (#19 collegian, =#5 Pac-10 and West Region). Wheating was nervous before the 800 but the results have calmed him for future competition, "I am more impressed that I came back after the 1500. I haven't done that double in forever. I'm pretty happy that I have the strength to go back to back." Coach Vin Lanana indicated that he may run Wheating in either the 800 or 1500 and that both had discussed it. As far as NCAAs are concerned, Lanana said "We do want to get him to be in a serious position to do whatever we need him to do in the NCAAs." Lanana has an eye to the summer for his charge, "I believe that what we have done this year in trying to slow down his training is to put him in position where he would come around a little later in the year. We want him to run deep into the summer whether he makes the world championship team or not." Duck sophomore Travis Thompson ran another pr with a time of 1:49.18 that places him fifth among Pac-10 competitors this year and

Senior Jenny Barringer of Colorado opened her outdoor college season with prs in the 1500, an outdoor world leading 4:08.38 (#1 collegian by almost 6 seconds), and 800, 2:05.43 (#11 collegian, #1 Big 12). Her recent collegiate record in the mile and this performance has opened her options, " My career is really young, and I've done some things the last few months that I've never done before…So, I'd like to keep it open. My coach and I can make a decision after NCAAs."

Two-time NCAA champion Ashton Eaton is looking forward to the upcoming meets and the goal of 8300 points. After not training for a month in the hurdles or pole vault due to a lower abdominal strain he was pleased with his first decathlon of the year at 8023 points (#1 collegian by 202 points), "it was great to score 8000 points with a 14 (14-11) foot vault." After personal records (prs) at the UCLA dual (10.49 for the 100 and a wind-aided 25-8 long jump) he feels ready for the Pac-10 meet, "I think I have a lot of individual prs left." Of his teammate, junior Marshall Ackley who scored a personal record and NCAA provisional qualifying 6933 for second, "If he made it that would be so sweet. I really want to see him get 7000." Off little hurdle training Eaton ran a pr 14.08 in the first event of the second day after scoring a first day personal record of 4258. The first day pr was off of consistently good marks and the second day was the same but no one vaulted well. Not realizing there was a meet record of 8059 by Sheldon Blockberger in 1989 he said he was only interested in getting 8000 points, "anything over 8000 points would be great. I'm not really focused on a score, I'm just taking it one event at a time."

Kalindra McFadden has continued her consistently strong 2009 season. She had a big pr of 5582 (#4 collegian, #3 all-time Oregon) after setting a first day pr by over 100 points. She did it just like Ashton Eaton did showing great consistency. She had near prs in every event but the long jump where she did get a pr at 18-10 ¾. Junior Erin McFadden had several prs and for the third straight heptathlon set a personal record at 4858 points (114 point pr). She had prs in the 100 hurdles (15.33), Shot Put (31-1), 200 meters (26.55), and Javelin Throw (126-3).

On Friday night senior Shadrack Kiptoo-Biwott exhibited more of the conditioning from being able to train for a continuous year for the first time in his Duck career. At the Stanford Invitational he ran 28:28.83 (#7 collegian, #4 all-time among Ducks). At the Oregon Relays he followed Olympic Trials fifth place finisher in the 10,000 meters, Josh Rohatinsky, and then outkicked him at the finish for a five second pr at 13:36.25 (#5 collegian, #8 a-t among Ducks) to 13:37.21. This follows his great kick in the UCLA dual where he just passed teammate Matt Centrowitz, jr 3:46.76 to 3:46.77 by running a sub-41 second last 300 meters. Following the two leaders was Centrowitz outkicking his competitors for third in a nine second pr time of 13:49.15 (#15 NC, #6 P-10). He beat three collegians currently in the top 21 nationally.

Next up was Rupp getting his NCAA automatic qualifier and the goal of getting freshman Luke Puskedra his automatic qualifier. Pacing was aided by two Oregon Track Club elite runners Will Leer and Chris Thompson. At 4,000 meters Rupp was trying to win the race with Rend Lake junior college's Stephen Sambu and Puskedra still in tow. He held pace long enough to allow a faltering Puskedra to catch and outkick Sambu as Rupp won in 28:28.68 (#6 collegian, #1 Pac-10) and Puskedra ran 28:34.17 (#11 collegian, #6 a-t among Ducks).

Oregon's sophomore Brianne Thiesen was originally scheduled to compete in the heptathlon (#2 collegian) but instead had some impressive performances in individual events. She tied her pr with a wind-legal 19-9 long jump and followed that with a slightly wind illegal (2.2 m/s, allowable for NCAA regional qualifying) 20-3 ¾ jump that puts her fifth among Pac-10 competitors outdoors. She has shown improved speed this year (ran 55.33 for 400 meters at Mt SAC, #3 among Ducks) and exhibited that with a slightly illegal wind (2.2 m/s) run over 200 meters in 24.49, much superior to her 25.02 time while still a junior competitor in Canada. She then ran the first leg for the 4x100 meter relay that finished in 44.71 (just off the season best without her at 44.61). In her heptathlon performance from earlier this year she did not show that speed.

After the meet Vin Lanana was very pleased and said, "Everything that we tried to accomplish was accomplished. Everybody that needed to qualify, did qualify. And that doesn't always happen."

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